Tuesday, April 19, 2011 was a sad day in the literary world, as our community experienced the loss of Jeanne Leiby, editor of the Southern Review, and personal friend of three of the four members of our staff here at The Summerset Review. She touched the lives of us as well as many others in very endearing ways, and she will be sorely missed.

We honor her here, by noting three pieces in recent issues of her prestigious magazine as our Lit Picks of the Quarter. In the Southern Review's Summer 2010 issue, a story by Karl Taro Greenfeld, entitled "The Gymnast," brings us into the life of a Chinese girl with "childlike adorability and assassin-like execution." We thought the story was unique in that the first half focused on interesting gymnastic competition facts, while the second half moved into the protagonist's predicament and personality, such as when Xiao says to herself, "I was very good, perhaps even a little bit great."

In the Spring 2010 issue is a story by Debbie Urbanski entitled "Taken." This eerie piece involves the disappearance of a girl's friend, apparently taken by boys in the woods who do that sort of thing. There is frequent reference to an uncaring god, and the hint of a relationship between the protagonist's father and the taken girl. The prose, though, is beautifully written, and beautifully odd—as in the case where Ann narrates, "We watched the birds for a while, until one robin flew at the window, then crumpled with a soft thud. I flinched. Jasmine didn't. She fingered the glass soda bottle like it was another thing to break. That obvious smear of bird feathers and moist heat on the glass."

Finally, a nonfiction piece appearing in the Fall 2010 issue, "My Two Weeks as a Fellini Extra," by Jessica Levine, covers the author's experience as a roller-skating extra in the 1980 film, La Città delle Donne (City of Women). It's a candid account of how the appointment came to be, the need for a presenze interessanti. On taking the role, Levine says, "Living in Rome teaches you the merits of spontaneity achieved by relinquishing control, but this particular improvisation, I realized, could lead to a broken leg or two." If you see the film, look for her, as she describes, "...clambering down [stairs] in sneakers. The one with the cropped haircut and taupe satin hot pants."

While this issue was in final review, Heather Fowler, the author of our first story and coincidentally a friend of Jeanne's, made known to us that "Making Love to the Fruit Shooter" was actually inspired by Jeanne's love of archery.


Theme graphics this issue - "Sunspots"
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